This morning, the woman who now owns my favorite cafe had a tall glass of vanilla chai waiting for me when I came in and sat down in the windowseat. She asked how the writing has been going and I smiled, thinking of my poetry group meeting last night where my friends there were reveling in my fellowship win with me...people who were strangers to me a year ago but now cheer on my every effort. We are a mismatched group in terms of age and life experiences...but there is something intuitive they seem to understand about my process that makes any differences irrelevant. Plus, they see me as a creative spirit--in fact, know me as nothing else. In our lives, we are all viewed according to our "roles" and "jobs", according to the old stories our families or friends tell about our background and history...it is unusual to be noticed for our creative work alone. Like the cafe woman handing over the tea and the acknowledgement earlier, I am being witnessed as a writer. I feel the subtle difference--the way the process is in motion for me.
This weekend, a few of us will meet up at a writer's conference by the sea and immerse ourselves in words for two (and a half) luxurious days. Next week this time, I will be getting ready to attend a "Reception to meet the 2008 Individual Artist Fellowship Recipients" in an art museum an hour from home. I am nervous and excited to see the other winners for the year and to hear about their projects. I will be *seen* as a writer all over again by a room full of strangers...With book one completed and in process with final revision work, I have started reading over the 100+ pages I already wrote for book two. There has been just enough time and distance from the material that I can consider it objectively, like the words aren't even mine...like the concept for the story wasn't even generated in my mind. But, it was...and it is SO different from the first I cannot even say. With a full-time teaching gig coming my way within the next five months, I told myself at my cafe table, "Well then, that gives you four and a half months to finish this second baby...ready, set, go!"
The sun struck the orchids beside me and saturated my left hand with light as it skimmed along with my pen and I forgot about the fact that Migration Summer took me years to write and decided to jump right in with some bold trust in myself. Unlike so many revision-minded-writers, this creation phase--the blind stumbling along, the "without-a-net-tightrope-walking" stage, the "messy" unraveling of the narrative is my absolute favorite. I am moving right ahead with the work, grateful for the shelter this creativity provides for me from the difficulties of the rest of life. No matter what struggles I am facing, I can come back to the page again and again...and, by doing so, come back to the center of who I am.
"The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings."
--J.M. Barrie, writer and creator of Peter Pan--